The Death of the Polling Place, Island County, WA

Island County, WA, one of the few remaining Washington County’s with a precinct poll-based system, is switching to Vote-By Mail.

http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=84&cat=23&id=857743&more=

Commissioner Mac McDowell was surprised that no meeting attendees spoke in favor of the current system. In fact, the county received only one e-mail praising poll voting.

“It’s sad that we’re ending up here,” he said.

Supporting the election change was a difficult decision, but one the commissioner ultimately made.

Board Chairman Mike Shelton said the most convincing reasoning for switching exclusively to vote-by-mail is the already large percentage of residents who fill out their ballots at home and drop them in the mailbox. However, the commissioner, like his two colleagues, prefers the polling experience.

“I for one am truly an old-style voter and I go to the polls and I like that,” he said. “You see people there that you don’t see often. If I had my druthers, that’s exactly what we would continue to do. However, as my wife often reminds me, I’m getting passed by in a lot of different areas of my life and this appears to be one of them.”

It’s funny to me that all these “leaders” are “following” what they seem to think is public opinion. Leaders should, in my humble opinion, lead. And if the commissioner in Island County was a real leader,  he’d call for a public vote on the issue, and then argue strenuously why the absolute secrecy of the ballot is a consitutional requirement in Washington. He would then explain the many pitfalls of the system, from lost mail to privatized ballot sorting, and work his butt off to educate people about voting integrity. But no… he’s just sad.

I’m outraged.

The “Myth” of Vote Fraud

While Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt opine on “The Myth of Voting Fraud,” in the Washington Post, real voting fraud continues to be prosecuted all around the country. Case in point, Crown Point, Chicago:

http://nwitimes.com/articles/2007/03/29/news/lake_county/doc414d94f481bdd890862572ac00835bc8.txt

CROWN POINT | Two were convicted and sentenced Wednesday for vote fraud in the May 2003 East Chicago primary race. Two others await sentencing.

The Lake County prosecutor’s office said Jose Arroyo, 39, of Hammond, and Mabel Komendat, 44, of Highland, pleaded guilty to voting in East Chicago, although they lived outside that city.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Clarence Murray placed both on one year probation and ordered them to perform 50 hours community service.

Allan “Twig” Simmons, 39, of Hammond, faces nine years in prison when he is sentenced next month by Murray. Simmons pleaded guilty to absentee balloting fraud.

Mario Del Valle, 32, of Hammond, pleaded guilty to voting outside his home precinct. Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas P. Stefaniak Jr. will sentence him April 24.

Some 22 people have been convicted of vote fraud in the 2003 East Chicago primary election.

Now I’m a voting integrity activist, myself. And to me, voting fraud and electioneering are two sides of the same coin. But it is interesting that the typical Republican will concern themselves with “fraud” and the typical Democrat will worry more about “electioneering”. To get to the heart of the issue, voting integrity needs to be about securing the voting system from both electioneering and fraud concerns. Not about partisan bickering, and political manuevering.